Understanding data

This year I’ve been developing my statistical skill set in order to add another tool to my box of analysis tricks.

I decided to apply my new skills recently in the area of time series forecasting.

Now I recall that the 1st step before carrying out any statistics modelling is to visualise the data.  So I fired up Excel and created a quick chart.

Weekly Ticket Data

The trend line was going to be difficult to extrapolate at the weekly level.   There seems to be some kind of alternating pattern though.  To explore this further, I grouped the weeks to months and created a new chart.

Data grouped to month

Bingo.  We can see the pattern in the chart and it’s easier to see a pattern in the numbers at this aggregate level.   All I needed to do was to extend the pattern.  No statistics were required.   Additionally, this alternating pattern illustrated a problem with un-balanced processes.    By balancing out the process we can increase overall throughput.

So in summary, before you dive into the statistics tool box apply your business knowledge and visualise the data set from different perspectives.

If you want to follow me on my statistical journey check out Udacity.

About Lee Hawthorn

Data Professional
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